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Our mission is to enjoy and protect the natural places of Nassau County Florida, to teach others to understand and respect the fragile environment in which we live, and to practice and promote the responsible use of our local ecosystems and resources.
ALERT: Landmark Tree on 8th and Atlantic threatened. Nassau Sierra Club leads concerned citizens and 3 other environmental groups to send letter of concern to City Leaders - Click here to read it
Keep up with outings and upcoming events on our new Meetup Page
STAY COOL FILM SERIES: EXPAND YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL KNOWLEDGE ONE MOVIE AT A TIME- INTO THE CANYON (September 15th)
NEXT SIERRA OUTING: Hike the Talbot Island Dune Loop (September 24th)
See our summer newsletter
HELP! Our outreach and programs are growing and we need your help! We always need volunteers to help us in our mission to EXPLORE, ENJOY, and PROTECT the planet! ATTENTION! We currently are looking for volunteers in several areas. Check out the descriptions of volunteer positions available and help us out! Contact Julie Ferreira at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check our volunteer needs here
Executive Committee Elections coming up. Click here for more information
- Protecting our drinking water from PFAS pollution
- Egans Creek Greenway Position Paper
- Sierra Club's Zero Waste Policy
- UPDATE - CRC Votes Down Proposed 40 Year Leasing of Conservation Land!
- CRC Proposes Leasing Converation Land for 40 Years!
- Half of US Population Breathing Polluted Air
Super Blue Moon Kayak Fundraiser in Support of Nassau County Sierra on August 30th, 2023
Wednesday, August 30th, Nassau Sierra partnered with Kayak Amelia to present a Super Blue Moon Kayak Experience. (Super moons happen when the moon is full at the same time its orbit is closest to Earth). Here are some pictures from the event:
- Participation (all kayaks provided) – $85 includes happy hour drinks and appetizers (double kayak cost is $170)
- Meet at 7 pm (Kayak Amelia, Talbot Islands State Park) for drinks and lite snacks.
- This is a guided nature tour which is a great way to learn about kayaking and the local environment. Along the way our guides will describe the saltmarsh eco-system, critters, and local history.
- We will be on the water to see the Super Blue Moon Rise. This is a truly extraordinary sky-watching experience.
- Numbers limited, sign up today.
- Location: Kayak Amelia on Heckshire Drive/A1A
- Rain date will be Thursday August 31st- (call Kayak Amelia).
- To sign up go to Kayak Amelia website: https://fareharbor.com/embeds/
book/kayakamelia/items/371280/ availability/1248510502/book/? full-items=yes
Together, we can make our community stronger!
You may also support the programs and outreach of Nassau County Sierra Group by donating at P.O. Box 38, Fernandina Beach, FL 32035
New Meetup group for Nassau Sierra
Nassau County Sierra is coming into the 21st century and is now on Meetup. Check us out! It's a good way to make new friends and connect with like-minded people who share your interests. Here's how:
Create an account. Log into your account. Go to the homepage for https://www.meetup.com/
We hope to see you soon for an outdoor adventure or indoor event!
STAY COOL FILM SERIES: EXPAND YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL KNOWLEDGE ONE MOVIE AT A TIME
The Nassau County Sierra Club will host the Stay Cool Film Series during the months of August and September designed to expand your environmental knowledge one film at a time.
We're ready to take you on a journey covering some of the biggest environmental challenges of our lifetime, including the social and ecological impacts of contemporary mining, environmental justice issues, sustainability, a visually stunning journey through US environmental history, and an enchanting wilderness journey through the Grand Canyon.
The Stay Cool Film Series will take place once a month on a Friday evening at 7:00 p.m. at the Fernandina Beach Public Library, 25 N. 4th Street. The admission is totally free.
Our next film will be: Into The Canyon
The screening is free at the Fernandina Public Library on September 15th at 7:00 pm. Join us.
Filmmaker/photographer Peter McBride and writer Kevin Fedarko decided to walk the entire length of the Grand Canyon, a 750-mile trek. They had no idea what they were getting into. Their documentary is an engaging mixed bag of a buddy film, history, classic beauty shots of the environment, the politics of development, and an important message regarding protecting national parks and world treasures.
Admission is free. Presented by the Nassau County Sierra Club.
Our second film was: The Shadow of Gold
The screening is free at the Fernandina Public Library on August 18th at 7 pm. Join us.
In the documentary, “The Shadow of Gold”, the human stories resonate about how we are all globally connected to gold, including the conflict and pollution that mining companies don’t like to talk about. From communities threatened by proposed mining projects in the U.S. and Canada to small-time and artisanal miners risking their health—and their lives—in countries like Congo, Peru and China, THE SHADOW OF GOLD leads viewers from these flashpoints of extraction through loosely regulated supply networks to the very top of the global supply chain, where conflict gold reaches consumers who are unaware of the origins of this coveted commodity.
Our first film was: Stewart Udall: The Politics of Beauty
July 21, 2023, 7:00 pm
This visually stimulating feature documentary introduces us to the birth pangs of modern environmentalism. We see how Stewart Udall’s ideas evolved, best illustrated in his conversion from a pro-power dam Arizona representative to the Interior Secretary who dealt the death blow to proposed Grand Canyon dams. We examine his long fight to win compensation for Navajo Indians and “downwinders” who got cancer from their exposure to radiation during the Cold War without being warned of the dangers. And we see the relevance of his concerns—for example, he was the first public official to speak out about global warming—which brings us to our current day crises.
COVID-19 safety measures
Event will be indoors
Special Communicable Disease advisory:
● This event may include vaccinated and non-vaccinated participants
● No Covid or any health test is required to attend this event
● If you have any of the following symptoms, please do not attend this event:
* Fever or chills
* Congestion or runny nose
* Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
* Nausea or vomiting
* Muscle or body aches
* New loss of taste or smell
● Please bring a mask in case a situation arises where donning a mask may be warranted.
Protecting our drinking water from PFAS pollution
The EPA has recently announced its first ever legal limits for PFAS in drinking water, but much more remains to be done. Millions of Americans are exposed to dangerous amounts of PFAS chemicals in their water, food or by consumer products. PFAS are uniquely harmful and persistent contaminants that cause cancer, organ damage, immune system suppression and harm children’s development. When finalized, the new rules will improve water quality for millions of Americans.
This is an issue that the Nassau County Sierra Club has just begun to discuss.
Here is an image depicting how PFAS get into our water
We are posting a link to access a video recording of a recent Sierra Club WEBINAR on PFAS pollution. Hear from Linda Birnbaum, one of the nation's leading toxicology researchers about the story of PFAS contamination, and what needs to be done to protect people and the planet from these dangerous chemicals.
This video recording can be accessed at any time. View at your own convenience. See link below.
Link to the webinar video recording:
Protecting our drinking water from PFAS pollution - Zoom
Webinar Speakers include:
Linda Birnbaum, retired EPA and NIH leader
Sonya Lunder, Sierra Club Senior Toxics Policy Advisor
Representatives from Sierra Club Hawaii, Sierra Club Michigan, Grassroots PFAS team, and Water Sentinels
Related articles and resources on PFAS pollution:
Interactive Map: PFAS Contamination Crisis: New Data Show 2,858 Sites in 50 States (ewg.org)
Egans Creek Greenway Position Paper
We used to speak of Egans Creek Greenway in Fernandina as being a "preserve". But what is a preserve?
In the Greenways' case, it's a Conservation/wildlife refuge/nature reserve. In other words, it's a protected area of importance for flora and fauna which is reserved and managed for purposes of 'conservation' which can be defined as the planned management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect.
Seemingly, conservation area or preserve is an idea that no longer is respected or honored in Fernandina Beach. We used to protect and honor the wildlife that we shared this island with but in respect to the Greenway- now gone are the bobcats, less frequent are the otters, and on their way to being gone is the ability to see wading birds — the herons, ibis, egrets, and the endangered American Wood Stork.
We've become the other Florida, only we're on an island. An island that sports excrescent growth like mold on an orange with sprawl, increasing traffic, trees and natural fauna disappearing, buildings being built, and an ever-burgeoning population. A recent article on the frontpage of the Fernandina Beach Newsleader stated that Nassau County's population would increase 73% over the next 20 years. Did anybody notice that??? 73%!!!
At one time Fernandina Beach could be touted as being in the forefront for our foresight and outlook. The creation of Egans Creek Greenway was a far-sighted program to protect a large swath of land from development. It also helped to provide a network of connected habitats stretching from the south of the island north to Fort Clinch and these connected habitats were a wildlife corridor. Florida black bears have even frequented the hallowed connected hallways we preserved as they migrated from Talbot Island and further south on their way to swim across the river to Georgia.
I think there are few who live in the city that would argue that now is a critical moment in Fernandina for natural habitat- especially for our many unique, and in some cases endangered, plants and animals.
Ever see a Wood Stork on the Greenway? They breed solely in Florida and Georgia. If you see them, they're big. They stand 3-1/2 ft tall, weigh about 8 pounds with a wingspan up to 5 feet. They hold an “endangered/threatened” classification meaning that there is a concern that this species could become extinct if negative impacts continue. Their population decline has been the result of loss and alteration of the wetland feeding habitats they need to survive.
Wood Storks have a specialized style of feeding, relying on touch. They feed on small sized marsh fish, shrimp, amphibians (tadpoles), and small reptiles (snakes) by slowly wading through the water with open bills. When the bird's bill touches a fish, it quickly snaps it shut to secure the meal. The habitats that these birds require for nesting, feeding, and roosting are- according to federal regulations- to be protected throughout the year. One would then think that the Greenway and its habitat of lowland wetlands which our neighbors, the Wood Storks, require for feeding should be 'protected'.
The Wood Storks' other Greenway neighbors, the herons and egrets, are daylight foragers because they are visual feeders. They must be able to see their prey before they spear it or grab it with their sharp bills hence, they are restricted to feeding during the day and being able to forage on the edges of wetlands. All of these wading birds are susceptible to disturbances like loud noises and an increase in human activity. If we want wildlife and birdlife in our midst leaving the wetland areas they inhabit alone, or as alone as possible, is the best policy.
However, is that what our new policy of allowing e-bikes on the Greenway going up to 10 mph will do? Disturbances will have an effect, but it seems we in Fernandina make continued community decisions ensuring that we will live in an environment devoid of life other than that of humans and domesticated animals.
The Nassau County Sierra Club opposes e-bikes on the Greenway because police won't be able to stop people using the bikes irresponsibly and enough conflict exists on the trails between cyclists and pedestrians without adding another set of travelers. It's one of the few places where you can just be a human, if you throw in electric motors or electric assist motors, it changes the whole dynamic.
It's understood that e-bikes are the next new thing and the market for them is growing. That means that we can all rest assured that their use will not be limited to the old and infirmed. Due to our population growth in the City and County more and more people are seeking recreation. For the Greenway this means that more and more people will be in competition with wildlife. Is this what we want?
By the way, the Parks and Recreation Department keeps a golf cart for any infirmed person who wants to visit the Greenway. Kathy Russell is willing to give tours and take people out so there is no valid argument that people who can't walk far or pedal a normal bicycle are prohibited from enjoying the Greenway. The City made equal access provisions long ago.
Humans are the greatest single factor in the loss of species. The ever-increasing pressure on our local ecosystems and their life-supporting services is great and serious. Ask yourself, what is our place in the universe? Are we protectors or invaders?
Julie Ferreira, Nassau County Sierra Group Chairperson
Sierra Club's Zero Waste Policy
Also please take a moment and sign our STOP USING PLASTIC BAGS, PUBLIX petition. The campaign is approaching 11,000 digital signatures and we are picking up speed. Help us move towards the goal of 20,000 signatures. Feel free to share with all!
It’s up to us to protect our children and grandchildren!
CRC Votes Down 40 Year Lease of Conservation Land
Watching the ebbs and flows of politics is always interesting. The next challenge will be gaining the firm support for the new Charter language by the City Commission which then will move it to public referendum in November. Thankfully this first stage of the battle was successful and citizens voices were heard.
The Fernandina Charter Review Committee voted on 5/05/20 (almost unanimously) to prohibit the outright any sale or lease of city owned Conservation Land in perpetuity. This result would not have been possible without the mobilizing of citizen input.
It's a sign of hope that some of the most vigorous supporters of the leasing of Conservation Land became the most vocal supporters of the viewpoints of local conservation organizations and conservation minded citizens. Citizen input definitely made a huge difference in the outcome of this decision.
Here is the Nassau County Sierra Club's response to the Charter Review Committee:
Charter Review Board Proposes up to 40 Year Lease of Conservation Land!!
One of the provisions the Fernandina Charter Review Board has been considering is a provision prohibiting the sale or long-term leasing of City-owned conservation lands perhaps without a public referendum first.
At this point, the CRC has gone so far as to agree that any such sale or lease longer than 40 years of City-owned recreational or Conservation Land must receive unanimous consent of the City Commission and 70% approval by the voting public. The bad news is that City-owned conservation land could be leased for up to 40 years.
At the February 25th meeting the planning director, Kelly Gibson, told the CRC that she could think of many reasons that the City would want to enter into up to 40-year leases of City-owned conservation land, including partnerships with nonprofits to manage the land and for photography and sight-seeing businesses. She also said that without the right to lease the land, it might should be kept in an “abandoned state”.
Since when would keeping land in its "natural state' be a bad thing? Human sprawl has shrunk our wild lands. As a result, wildlife are struggling to find places to rear their young, feed, and find shelter.
The Nassau County Sierra Club believes that Conservation Land should not be leased. Leasing can open the way for irreparable damage to treed properties, even for a short-term lease.
Leased property could be impacted by the needs to create parking places, facilities, or other improvements. Plus, 40 years is way too long for a lease anyway. We believe there is some discussion to reduce the length of a lease to 15 or 20 years- agreeably this is better- but we stand by our initial opinion of the no lease option.
Please tell the Charter Review Committee your thoughts. Community input is important.
An email address has been set up for the Charter Review Committee: CRC2020@fbfl.org. Emails sent to this address will be received in the City Attorney’s office and promptly forwarded to all members of the Charter Review Committee. Please send emails before June 4th that will express your sentiments. Also, public comment is to be taken at the June 4th meeting at City Hall at 5:00.
If attending in person at City Hall, please arrive at City Hall no later than 4:50 PM to be counted and to complete a speaker form. You will be admitted into City Hall when it is your turn to make your public comments.
Please wear a face mask when entering City Hall for your protection and the protection of others.
Half of US Breathes Dirty Air
According to a new study by the American Lung Association, half of the US population is breathing dirty, polluted air. You can read a Sierra Club article on the study by clicking here
No More Plastic Bags, Publix
Sierra Club Florida has created a campaign to ask Publix to stop using single-use plastic bags at check out . Stop Using Plastic Bags, Publix aims to convince Publix supermarket chain to voluntarily stop distributing single-use plastics bags at checkout. In the meantime, we encourage everyone to use cotton or reusable bags for shopping.
TAKE ACTION NOW ...
Sign our petition to ask Publix Supermarkets to lead the way to stop using single-use plastic bags at the checkout. For more information on what you can do to stop the use of single-use plastics, contact email@example.com
2020 Right Whale Calving Season - Updates
During winter, we live in the midst of the right whale birthing habitat. So far this season, four babies have been born. These babies and all the right whale mothers visiting our area need protection.
Of the four babies sighted this birthing season, one is already in grave condition. This is extremely concerning. The calf's mouth is injured which could hamper its ability to nurse and feed. When first spotted the calf was only a few days old but already had injuries that were consistent with those from a boat propeller.
These gentle giants can be spotted with the naked eye or with a telescope. The sessions at the library will provide training on what to look for and what to do if one suspect’s a right whale sighting. Input from the public is crucial to prevent ship strikes and to help the experts collect data on these endangered animals and their patterns.
Julie Alpert from the Marine Resources Council of Palm Bay will graciously conduct our workshop. It is a two hour training session. Everyone is welcome.
Vessel strikes are one of the greatest human-caused threats to North Atlantic right whales. Whales can be killed if they are cut by propellers or from the force of being hit by any boat or shipping vessel. Your participation in this sighting program could make all the difference! Everyone's help is needed. Attendees will learn the signs to identify right whales and how to report there whereabouts.
Since Amelia Island is in the center of the winter calving grounds for these endangered whales, we need whale spotters which can relay the GPS location to a central phone number so an all points bulletin can be issued to harbor pilots, ship's captains, port authorities, and recreational boaters to avoid the whale's location and to slow down.
The protection of these animals is literally in the hands of us all. Please join us for this important training. In the meantime, we ask anyone with information regarding the calf's injuries and/or additional sightings to contact 1-877-WHALE-HELP (1-877-942-5343).
Help Save North Atlantic Right Whales- WE NEED YOU!
Click here for the Facebook item about the team that is trying to save a new calf struck by a vessal.
Other links to articles about the Right Whale calf spottings:
- Second calf spotted
- Third calf
- Mother Right Whale and injured calf
- NOAA article about Right Whale strikes
Meeting and Events
Join us as we enjoy, explore and protect the planet! Check out The Nassau County Sierra Group's Facebook Page for other environmental news and announcements.
*For more information, contact our meeting and event coordinator - Mary Libby (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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